Italian, by George?

Happy new year, dear readers, and welcome to the third installment (or at least the first part of it) of my “by George” series, following the linguistic misadventures of the novelist Elizabeth George. In the first installment I detailed her lapses in reproducing British English, while in the second I discussed the mess she made trying to represent Spanish names.

Elizabeth George’s latest novel, Just One Evil Act, has just appeared, and the reviews I have read have been underwhelming, even from self-acknowledged long-time fans like Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle. Two oft-mentioned complaints are that book is overlong (700+ pages in hardcover) and that it contains a great deal of untranslated Italian dialogue.

Because of the first complaint I don’t feel too eager to read the book just yet. But the second one makes me want to, at least, browse through it. I know Italian — not as well as British English and Spanish, but well enough (I think) to be able to tell whether the dialogue is of the kind that would actually be spoken by Italians, or the kind that might be concocted from a crash course (perhaps with the help of a duly acknowledged but not necessarily helpful editor). When I’ve had a chance to look at the book, I will post (I promise) the second part of this installment.

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